The Day Freedom Died by Charles Lane
The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction

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The untold story of the slaying of a Southern town’s ex-slaves and a white lawyer’s historic battle to bring the perpretators to justice Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex–Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert their new rights, killed more than sixty African Americans who had occupied a courthouse. With skill and tenacity, The Washington Post’s Charles Lane transforms this nearly forgotten incident into a riveting historical saga.
Seeking justice for the slain, one brave U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, risked his life and career to investigate and punish the perpetrators—but they all went free. What followed was a series of courtroom dramas that culminated at the Supreme Court, where the justices’ verdict compromised the victories of the Civil War and left Southern blacks at the mercy of violent whites for generations. The Day Freedom Died is an electrifying piece of historical detective work that captures a gallery of characters from presidents to townspeople, and re-creates the bloody days of Reconstruction, when the often brutal struggle for equality moved from the battlefield into communities across the nation.

About Charles Lane

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Charles Lane first learned about the Colfax Massacre case while covering the Supreme Court for The Washington Post. His journalism career has taken him from Washington to Tokyo, Berlin to Bosnia, Havana to Johannesburg. A former editor of The New Republic, Lane has written for Foreign Affairs, The New York Review of Books, and The Atlantic. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard and studied law at Yale. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Published March 4, 2008 by Henry Holt and Co.. 352 pages
Genres: History, War, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Washington Post writer Lane tackles the horrific Reconstruction era in this well-considered study of a Louisiana massacre and its grim ramifications for civil rights.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Day Freedom Died: The Col...

Publishers Weekly

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The Colfax Massacre, a buried episode in American history, took place on an Easter Sunday afternoon in 1873. Within four hours, at least eighty black American men had been brutally murdered by whit

Jan 07 2008 | Read Full Review of The Day Freedom Died: The Col...

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